Honey is a very good, healthy sugar alternative, that tastes great in tea, on a piece of toast or just pure from a spoon. You may not know however that honey is not just a tasty, bee produced liquid, but that honey (of the raw variant) has a number of different health uses. In this article we only cover the benefits of raw honey because this type of honey contains a lot of beneficial compounds that are not present in most regular honey you buy at the supermarket. Most honey you can buy at the supermarket has been pasteurized. The heat that honey is subjected to during this pasteurization process destroys a lot of the antioxidants, pollen and enzymes that raw honey normally contains. You can usually tell whether honey has been pasteurized or not from its consistency. Raw honey usually being more solid, cloudy and containing pieces of beeswax, while pasteurized honey is very runny and looks clear. Before we look at uses of raw honey and related health benefits we want to note that you should never give honey (raw or processed) to a child under 1 years old.
There are some studies that seem to indicate that consuming local raw honey – from an area as close as possible to where you normally live – may help develop a better immunity to certain pollen allergies. The theory behind this is that consuming local raw honey containing pollen from a plant you are allergic to acts as a type of vaccine. Eating a small amount of honey every day may then prevent allergy attacks from occurring during allergy seasons. The scientific evidence to support this theory is very limited however, so your mileage may vary. If you suffer from seasonal pollen allergies, it may be worth a try though, especially if you enjoy the taste of honey.
Raw honey contains enzymes that have been shown to improve digestion for some people. It’s also been successfully used to treat diarrhea and stomach ulcers.
Raw honey contains a high number of potent antioxidants as well as phytonutrients that help combat cancer (which are actually found in the propolis – the honeyglue that bees produce to repair holes in their hives – but also end up in the honey). Processed honey doesn’t contain any of these compounds, so if you want to benefit from honey’s potential cancer fighting properties, make sure you buy raw honey.
Raw honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, which is why it’s been used topically to treat wounds for thousands of years. Manuka honey especially (made by bees that pollinate the New Zealand manuka bush) is great for wound treatment because it’s been shown to have the highest antibacterial power out of all honeys tested so far.
Raw honey may help you get rid of an annoying cough, one study conducted at the Penn State College of Medicine showing that honey (buckwheat honey was used in the study) worked better as a cough suppressant for children than a popular over-the-counter children’s cough medicine.
Given al these great benefits associated with raw honey consumption you may want to consider adding some (local) raw honey to your tea or coffee instead of sugar next time.
About the author
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at the Kansas City Skin and Vein Center. Zane thinks that raw honey sounds delicious.